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  • Writer's pictureNikki Latham

What Is SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder) ? Nikki's Personal Journey

As many of our listeners know I sometimes struggle with my disabilities and although my main issue is Fibromyalgia, I have other conditions that also add to the game of Jenga I play with to keep me from falling down mentally and that is SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

I have always been honest with you the listener about my health, and I hope that sometimes it helps to know that someone else is perhaps having a tough day too. I know how important music is to many of you who tune in and I just wanted to share about how tough it is during the Winter months is for me.

SAD can affect at any time of the year for many, with the winter dark evenings, it can be too much sleep, exhaustion and overeating, but in the summer it can show itself as heightened anxiety. For me, that sleeping too much and not feeling like I have slept could be attributed a little to my main Fibromyalgia condition, but at some point in January, a light switch flicks and I am in the depths of SAD, sleeping through alarms and feeling a bit battered and bruised mentally.

Around 2 million people in the UK struggle with SAD and some say as many as 1 in 20 people will have suffered with symptoms of SAD in their lifetime. This condition is well known, but little discussed, as more men than women are said to struggle from this, and often undiagnosed.

The NHS sees the symptoms as:

  • a persistent low mood

  • a loss of pleasure or interest in normal everyday activities

  • feeling irritable

  • feelings of despair, guilt and worthlessness

  • low self-esteem

  • tearfulness

  • feeling stressed or anxious

  • a reduced sex drive

  • becoming less sociable

A small number of people will experience these symptoms in phases that are separated by "manic" periods where they feel happy, energetic and much more sociable. Additional symptoms include:

  • be less active than normal

  • feel lethargic (lacking in energy) and sleepy during the day

  • sleep for longer than normal and find it hard to get up in the morning

  • find it difficult to concentrate

  • have an increased appetite – some people have a particular craving for foods containing lots of carbohydrates and end up gaining weight as a result

Personally, although I suffer from depression and anxiety as part of my fibromyalgia, I can define my SAD episodes, as that last point, about the "manic periods", where my need to socialise is definitely heightened, but it's still very much putting on an act and the balance between wanting to hide under the duvet to getting dressed up and ready to go out and smile is a difficult one, but often my fibromyalgia wins over with my bed.

Treatment for SAD is usually the same as for depression, and for someone like me who is already treated for this, there really is nothing that can be given extra to help medically, but just know that the radio shows I present to you the listener, is sometimes all I need to raise my spirits and I hope in some small way that what I do can at least make you smile and send a virtual hug.

If you are struggling with any of these symptoms please reach out to your GP and other medical providers and if you want to chat may we recommend the Samaritans 116 123 (available 24 hours a day) as getting hold of your GP can be a struggle and just talking to someone when you have SAD can also make all the difference.

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